08/06/2014 01:17 EDT | Updated 10/06/2014 05:59 EDT

David Soknacki takes aim at 'unsustainable' police budget

Toronto mayoralty candidate David Soknacki wants the city to take aim at what he calls an "unsustainable surge in costs" in the police budget, vowing to pare back police spending by $65 million a year.

"If we can fix the police budget, we can fix the city's budget," Soknacki said at a news conference Wednesday.

Soknacki said the city must take steps to curb the steady rise in policing costs and salaries, which he said are sapping money from other city services as crime declines. The police operating budget is $1.068 billion. About 89 per cent of that total goes toward salaries and benefits.

Soknacki said the savings can be achieved without a reduction in front-line police officers, but said the city needs to explore new approaches to staffing.

"We're going to have to take some sacred cows to the stockyard," he said. "Everything I'm proposing has been done safely in other cities."

Soknacki said if he's elected mayor on Oct. 27, he will sit on the Police Services Board, the body that provides civilian oversight over Canada's largest municipal police force. He also called for a strategic review of policing, so the city can redefine what it expects from its police force.

Soknacki didn't go into greater detail about how he would achieve the savings, saying he would release more information in the coming days.